Lysandre, Cyrus and Guzma from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company via Twinfinite

Every Team Leader in the Pokemon Games, Ranked by Personality

Which Gym Leader is the most charismatic?

The Team Leaders in the Pokemon games have been recognized as some of the most intriguing villains, opponents, and friends that you encounter on your journey through each Region. Many of these Team Leaders have very interesting personalities, traits, and entertaining ideals and quirks that make them stand out. But who among them are the most engaging and beloved Team Leaders in the franchise? Here’s our rankings for every Team Leader in the Pokemon games, ranked by personality.

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9: Lysandre (Team Flare)

Lysandre in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Lysandre is intense, that’s for sure – and he even gets dangerously close to achieving his plans of wiping the Kalos Region with his Ultimate Weapon. Unfortunately, this boss lacks an engaging sense of personality to make him likable as a Team Leader and villain.

He introduces himself out of nowhere, already pushing his ideals onto the player from the beginning. There’s no easing him into the plot as a mysterious, shady figure, no big twist, and certainly a lack of excitement from Lysandre’s presence. It’s evident from his first interaction that he’s the villain of the Region that you’ll undoubtedly be going up against later, leaving much to be desired.

Compared to other Team Leaders, who unravel snippets of their plans and personality over time, you know what Lysandre is up to from the start, especially when he mentions his desires for “a more beautiful world” and making the world “eternal and unchanging.”

Not only do his plans seem to be a reach, but he’s also incredibly vague in his motives and reasoning, and considering his obsession with this dream is focused on in place of character development and depth of personality, Lysandre is incredibly underwhelming, earning him the bottom spot on the list.

8: Penny “Cassiopeia” (Team Star)

Penny in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Penny is the secret “Big Boss” and head leader of Team Star, operating under the alias of Cassiopeia. Despite serving as the team leader during the Pokemon Scarlet & Violet storyline, Penny has never shown the respective Team Star leaders her true identity. On top of this, Cassiopeia’s mission was to take down Team Star. Sure, we know Penny was operating out of concern for her beloved friends, but still, it doesn’t make for the best Team Leader in the world.

On top of this, it wasn’t all that much of a surprise when the supposed big reveal finally came to light, unveiling that she had been Cassiopeia the whole time. Penny just happened to be working for her, always showing up moments after Cassiopeia would send her “assistant” along to deliver more materials. The timing of these events and her connection to Cassiopeia was bizarre the entire time, so I’m not sure about you, but I definitely saw that moment coming.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole journey of Team Star as a whole is probably one of my favorite moments in the entire Pokemon franchise. It’s wholesome and relatable for many people, making it genuinely enjoyable to play through.

However, Penny doesn’t really have all that much personality to her, apart from being the shy, awkward student you keep bumping into. Even after she embraces who she is and has a moment of personal growth, she doesn’t seem up to par with the other team leaders, so Penny scrapes in at the bottom half of the list.

7: Maxxie (Team Magma)

Maxxie in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Maxxie makes up the leader of Team Magma, one of two opposing teams constantly clashing and going head-to-head in the Hoenn Region. Maxxie aims to unleash the power of the legendary Pokemon, Groudon, to help drain the sea and expand land, offering more housing opportunities and making life easier for people. This plan was undoubtedly flawed, but the understandable reasoning behind his actions bumps him up the list and makes him a little more interesting than the likes of Lysandre.

Maxxie is relatively calm and intelligent on the exterior of his persona and genuinely believes that his plan to destroy the sea in favor of more land will better the way of living for humans. Despite these qualities, if anyone threatens to get in the way of his plans, Maxxie is extremely harsh, cold, and ruthless towards them and will try to force them out of interfering by crushing them in battle.

Maxxie also appears rather meticulous, as hinted at in the Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire games, where a Team Magma Grunt in the Hideout makes a complaint about Maxxie’s daily speech to everyone at 11 am sharp each morning. Despite the flaws in his plans, Maxxie’s ways of thinking are pretty intriguing and help you gain an initial interest in his character.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to easily last long, as his plans are pretty stupid, to put it bluntly. It makes his supposed high intelligence seem like some sort of joke. After all, what would happen to all of the Water-type Pokemon that live there if he were to get rid of the sea?

Not to mention the effect it would have on the land he was trying to grow and develop. On top of this, Maxxie’s harsh personality gets old rather quickly, earning him the spot below his fellow Team Aqua rival, Archie.

6: Archie (Team Aqua)

Archie in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Don’t get me wrong, I have no preference between Team Magma and Team Aqua, but as far as personalities go, Archie easily wins it over Maxxie. The polar opposite to Maxxie’s dream, Archie’s is to use the powers of the legendary Pokemon, Kyogre, to flood the lands, as he believes the sea is the source of all life, and doing so and would allow the sea to be peaceful and Pokemon to live to their full potential.

Archie’s plans are undoubtedly as flawed as Maxxie, if not worse, considering the amount of both human and Pokemon lives he’d be putting at risk – imagine how quickly a flood would put out the flame of poor Charmander’s tail, and we all know what that means. Despite this, Archie has a rather entertaining personality and character design that work well together to make him at least somewhat enjoyable as a Team leader.

His design undoubtedly gives him a rather pirate-ish look, and he completes this with his extremely ambitious and highly-driven personality, often tunnel-visioning on his plans. Archie may have a big heart and charismatic edge that can be compared to that of a cheery pirate, making his fellow Team Aqua Grunts follow him loyally. He’s also reasonably friendly but stubborn and extremely fierce in battle, making him much more interesting than the calm, intelligent, and harsh Maxxie.

5: Giovanni (Team Rocket)

Giovanni in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

People tend to love Giovanni because he’s the leader of Team Rocket, the very first evil organization in the Pokemon franchise. And it’s clear, even when he’s not on screen but instead mentioned by Team Rocket Grunts, that Giovanni means business. He’s undoubtedly a great team leader as far as being a big evil mastermind and boss falls, but his personality and development are where things start to fall off a little.

Giovanni is the head of Team Rocket and obsessed with power, using the likes of his team Grunts to bring him powerful Pokemon while he sits back and pulls the strings from behind the scenes. Don’t let this fool you, though; his power is evident from the fact that he utilizes the addition of a Mewtwo in his team in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, as well as various spin-off games, and he has many links to Mewtwo in the anime.

Unfortunately, over the years, Giovanni’s personality hasn’t exactly changed. He’s still a mystery man, hiding in the shadows after Team Rocket gets disbanded and waiting to come back with a vengeance. He’s cruel, self-absorbant, and couldn’t ever find himself genuinely caring for his team members, the victims of his actions, or even his son, Silver.

After all this time, Giovanni’s old stunts are getting rather dull, and he desperately needs some new character ark to spice himself up a bit more. After all, we barely get to see him interact with Silver in the games, and the last time they’re seen together, it’s when Silver opts to cut ties with him, vowing to become a truly strong trainer on his own without the likes of Team Rocket’s criminal activity.

What better way to reignite Giovanni’s character than with a heated reunion between him and his son a few years later? Heck, it doesn’t even have to be in the Kanto/Johto regions; I’m sure there’s a way to bring these two back anywhere. Until Giovanni gets some more development, his personality will remain stale despite his iconic role in the franchise, so here’s hoping they revisit the man who started it all as far as Team organizations go.

4: Piers (Team Yell)

Piers in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

There’s no doubt about Piers’ personality, which caused fans worldwide to fall in love with his character from the first encounter. This guy is the Dark-Type Gym Leader of Spikemuth, a hobby singer-songwriter, and the leader of Team Yell, which operates as a die-hard fan club for his little sister, Marnie, on her journey through the Galar Gym Challenge. Seriously, the man started a Team to cheer on his sister; how can you not love that about him?

On top of this, Piers has a fascinating character. At first glance, his design has you thinking he’s some sort of loud, punkish dude who’s all about anarchy and probably controls the battle with powerhouse explosions and flames alongside his musical performances.

Well, it turns out Piers is quite the opposite. Sure, he has a punkish look, that’s for sure. But rather than raising hell, Piers is quite the apathetic and gloomy individual towards most things, which caused him to go unaware of the formation and troubles caused by Team Yell. After all, the initial motive for Team Yell was Piers sending out his Gym Trainers to watch over and keep Marnie safe on her adventure, showing how much he cares for her.

Piers also consistently doubts himself as a trainer and Gym Leader, despite Raihan and Leon considering him one of the strongest in Galar. Only when Piers starts singing does he get fired up, enjoying his true passions and letting them guide him on the battlefield.

There’s no doubt that Piers is a very caring and brilliant big brother. When Marnie was younger, he caught and gifted her Morpeko, who became her partner Pokemon and allowed her to start her journey. On top of this, he also passed down the role of Gym Leader to her and found a way to use Team Yell’s antics more helpfully once he became aware of the nuisance they were being.

Piers is full of personality and has many elements to his character, from the rocker, the big brother, the Gym Leader, and the gloomy one; they all make him so damn endearing.

3: Ghetsis (Team Plasma)

Ghetsis in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Ghetsis is a brilliant offensive team leader within the Pokemon franchise with incredibly twisted goals. Ghetsis aims to be the only trainer in the world left with Pokemon so he can become a dictator by default. He even goes as far as to manipulate and use his adoptive son, N, and the likes of Team Plasma to help him get closer to achieving this goal. Yikes, and we thought Giovanni’s relationship with Silver was toxic…

On top of his antagonistic ways and ill intentions with his relationships, Ghetsis has a very engaging villainous personality, operating as a cult leader-like figure, crowning N the King of Team Plasma, and posing as an inspirational speaker. Don’t let this fool you; Ghetsis is as cruel as they come and won’t let anything get in the way of him achieving his goals.

He’s extremely charismatic, using it to his advantage both in his false role as an inspirational speaker preaching the release of Pokemon, as well as his role as one of the overseers of Team Plasma. He uses his charismatic nature to manipulate others into giving him what he wants, including the Seven Sages of Team Plasma. Ghetsis managed to force many people to reconsider their relationship with Pokemon, indicating just how much of a puppet master the man is.

Ghetsis is known to be a brilliant scientist, although his fits of rage and cold nature have more than got in the way of his true potential. In the sequel games to Black and White, Black 2 and White 2, Ghetsis seems to have spiraled into insanity, giving off mad scientist vibes. This spiral progresses so much that he has a complete breakdown and cannot pursue his goals further. Honestly, though, as horrible as Ghetsis may be as a person, he’s the perfect cold-hearted mad criminal to keep everyone on edge.

2: Guzma (Team Skull)

Guzma in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

It’s ya boy, Guzma. That’s right; there’s no way Guzma could be left out of the top rankings on this list after the portrayal of his punkish, angsty leader role of the hip-hop-inspired Team Skull in Pokemon Sun / Moon and sequels Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon.

Guzma puts up a tough and menacing front, posing as someone who wishes to instill fear and chaos in the Alola Region. However, deep down, Guzma desperately longs to be considered a good trainer and taken seriously. Guzma lacks confidence in his abilities, and Lusamine takes advantage of this to force him into the role of her enforcer. However, despite this, Guzma still has a strong knowledge of right and wrong, which causes him to disband from his position on her team.

Guzma also has an interesting backstory that helps to make his personality understanding and character more lovable. With aspirations to become a Trial Captain, Guzma trained hard and won many awards, even fulfilling an apprenticeship with Hala. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, he was rejected from this dream, which caused him to leave and form Team Skull alongside other trainers who had suffered the same response from their applications.

Guzma is such a great character, and his personality captured the hearts of fans from the start. Introducing him as a dark, chaotic personality, only to have that slowly strip away and reveal the real Guzma, was touching to many fans, who couldn’t help but gain a new perspective of him, and want to cheer him on throughout his journey to obtain his goals.

Cyrus (Team Galactic)

Cyrus in the Pokemon anime
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Coming in at the top of the list is Team Galactic’s leader, Cyrus. Sure, Cyrus isn’t the loudest or most eccentric Team leader in the franchise. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But he’s written with such brilliant depth to his character that he outshines the likes of Giovanni and easily wins it over everyone else.

See, Cyrus may be a very stoic, logical, and calm man who operates Team Galactic relatively smoothly. However, he also hides his emotions behind a stone wall and pretends not to let things bother him, making much more sense once you learn about his background. Cyrus aims to take control of Palkia and Dialga to reshape the world into one much more fitting, with him as a king. This all stems from Cyrus’s childhood.

Cyrus grew up a good, quiet student who preferred the company of Pokemon over humans. Unfortunately, despite his efforts, he failed to live up to his parents’ high expectations, breaking his heart and causing him to feel immense rejection. He concluded that human emotions were the cause of all strife in the world and that eliminating all emotions from existence was the only way things could be fixed. Knowing why Cyrus has such an emotionless, stone-faced appearance pulls at the heartstrings because when you think about his plan, all he wants is to be accepted and to achieve high.

Cyrus wants a place to call his own, where he can fit in and not have to worry about anything else, a very relatable desire for many people. However, despite being ambitious and having dangerous intentions, Cyrus sets himself apart from others by maintaining a non-threatening composure at all times, which helps him to build genuine respect from the rest of Team Galactic. This guy is truly fascinating, and if you still need to play a game in the Sinnoh Region, I highly recommend it so that you can meet Cyrus yourself.

Which team leader is your favorite? Feel free to let us know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this list, then be sure to check out the rest of content. We have a variety of Pokemon lists, news, and game guides that will help you become the very best that no one ever was, such as all Pokemon Champions, ranked, Ash’s 10 best companions in the Pokemon anime, and 10 best Pokemon rivals, ranked.

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Grace Black
Grace is a writer and digital artist from New Zealand with a love for fiction and storytelling. Grace has been writing for Twinfinite for one year and in the games industry for two years. She's an enthusiast of everything spooky, an occasional anime enjoyer, and a die-hard Ghost-Type Pokemon fangirl. Her favorite video games include Overwatch 2, Life is Strange, The Last of Us, Baldur's Gate 3, and Pokemon - all of which she will never tire of.